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LINCOLN'S VIEWS ON SLAVERY.
an appeal exhorting him to proclaim the slaves free, and assuring him that "all attempts to put down the rebellion, and at the same time to uphold the inciting cause, are preposterous and futile."
"My paramount object," says Lincoln (August, 1862), "is to save the Union, and not either to save
His paramount object to save the Union.
or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that." "I have here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-repeated personal wish that all men every where should be free."
He thus acted upon the principle that the preservation He regards slavery of the Republic was his first duty, and that, as a minor matter. whatever his personal opinions and wishes in relation to slavery might be, he must regard it as a "minor matter."
Very soon, however, he began more clearly to perceive that Unionism and slavery were incompatible, and that the latter was the instrument by which the leaders of secession were destroying the life of the nation.
Directing his attention to the Border States, he saw that in Delaware there was but one slave to sixty free persons; in Maryland, one to seven; in Western Virginia, one to eighteen; in Kentucky, one to four; in Missouri, one to ten. Moreover, the distribution of these slaves Gradual changes in was very unequal. To a very large extent his views. they were concentrated in limited localities. There were whole counties in these states that had only three or four slaves. And as soon as it was evident that war was unavoidable, the proportion underwent a great change. To prevent their escape to the national armies or into the Free States, the negroes were transferred toward the Gulf.
[SECT. XIII. If the Border States could be detached from the He tries to detach Confederacy, its population would be rethe Border States, duced from twelve and a quarter millions (12,239,996) to less than eight and three quarter millions (8,709,780), and a blow, perhaps fatal, would be struck at it.
and recommends compensated emancipation.
We have already seen (vol. i., p. 296, 307) that the translation of the black population to the cotton regions was taking place under an irresistible law, and that, had not the Civil War occurred, the Border States must necessarily have soon been free. Under these circumstances, it appeared to Lincoln that his sense of duty as regarded the safety of the Republic, his belief that there was a constitutional protection for slavery binding upon the Free States, his personal desire "that all men should be free," might be satisfied by some scheme of emancipation with compensation in the Border States. He would pay the owners of slaves in those states a fair equivalent for their freedom. That done, since the Cotton States can not politically exist without the Border States, the insurgent communities must gravitate back to the Union.
So thought Abraham Lincoln, a just and most merciful man. With rectitude of purpose he tried to discharge what he considered to be his obligations to the Constitution, acknowledging, however, that he knew himself to be in the hands of ONE who tolerates no excuses for wrong, and with whom Justice is paramount.
Accordingly the President passed by degrees, which perhaps were insensible to himself, from a denial of his power of interference, to absolute and unconditional emancipation. He has told us of his hesitations and doubts in a letter written not long (1864) before his death: "I felt that measures otherwise unconstitutional
He struggles to avoid the decisive measure.
LINCOLN'S RELUCTANCE TO ACT.
might become lawful by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed that ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had tried to preserve the Constitution, if to save slavery or any minor matter I should permit the wreck of government, country, and Constitution altogether. When, early in the war, General Fremont attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable necessity. When, a little later; General Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did not yet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, General Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come. When, in March, and May, and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the Border States to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation and arming the blacks would come unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposition, and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it the Constitution, or of laying a strong hand upon the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss, but of this I was not entirely confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, none in our home popular sentiment, none in our white military force-no loss by it anyhow or any where: On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no caviling. We have the men, and we could not have had them without the measure.
"I claim not to have controlled events, but confess
He can not resist the force of events,
CONTRADICTORY ARMY ORDERS.
plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years of strug gling, the nation's condition is not what either party or any man devised or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills, also, that we of the North, as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new causes to attest and revere HIS justice and mercy."
and perceives that a higher power is compelling him.
Contradictory army orders in relation to slaves.
The army orders and instructions in relation to slaves show in a very interesting manner how imperfectly the true method of dealing with the Confederacy was understood by the national leaders. McClellan would put the slaves down "with an iron hand." Cameron would not surrender any coming within the army lines. Patterson would repress all servile insurrection. Mansfield would harbor none in his camps. Butler looked upon them as contraband. Fremont proclaimed them free in his department. Dix would not interfere between the slave and his master. Wool would give the slaves employment, and regulate their pay and allowances. Halleck would drive them out of his lines; he prohibited the stealing and concealment of them by his soldiers. Burnside declared that he would not interfere with slavery. Subserviency to the slave interest may be considered as having reached its shameful climax in the American army when Buell and Hooker actually authorized slaveholders to search the national camps for fugitives and carry them away. The major commanding one of the regiments under the latter general reported that so great was the visible dissatisfac tion and murmuring among the soldiers that he almost feared for the safety of the slaveholders. He added that
COLONIZATION AND COMPENSATION.
"when they were within one hundred yards of our camp, one of their number discharged two pistol-shots at a négro who was running past them, with the evident inten tion of taking his life. This greatly enraged our men."
This surrendering of negroes was positively forbidden by Doubleday, who ordered them to be treated, not as chattels, but as persons. Hunter, in his department, proclaimed them all free, and the President; in another proclamation, rescinded that of Hunter.
Lincoln proposes colonization.
In his first annual message (December 3d, 1861) Lincoln proposed colonization, in some territory outside of the republic, of those negroes who through the operations of the war might be come free. He even suggested that it might be well to consider whether the free colored people already in the United States could not, so far as individuals might desire, be included in such colonization. The measure, however, met with no very emphatic approval in Congress. One hundred thousand dollars were appropriated to aid in the colonization of the free blacks of the District of Columbia. A few were taken to Cow Island,
Total failure of that plan.
on the coast of Hayti, but the scheme speedily proved a failure.
In the following spring (March 6th, 1862), in a special message to the houses of Congress, Lincoln suggested that they should adopt the following joint resolution:
He proposes com
"Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any state which may adopt gradual abolishment of slav pensated emanci- ery, giving to such state pecuniary aid, to be used by such state, in its discretion, to compensate for the inconvenience, public and private, produced by such change of system."
"If the proposition contained in the resolution does not meet the approval of Congress and the country, there